UConn in the NBA: Drummond and Walker still trucking, Napier comes alive

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) defends as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) shoots in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Detroit won 99-98. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Welcome back everyone! It’s been two weeks since I last checked in here and while us students got a week off to relax, our NBA alumni kept on grinding. Although they did manage to get a night off and stuff their faces with turkey, there was still plenty of basketball in these past two weeks to be excited about. Let’s see how the past couple of weeks treated some of our former Huskies.

Andre Drummond: “Dre Drumm” and his Detroit Pistons are sitting at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference and showing that their early hot start was not just a fluke. Drummond continues to play extremely well as he is still leading the league in rebounds and shooting upwards of 60 percent at the free throw line, right now sitting at 60.5. The big man is also averaging over three times the amount of assists per game this season than he did last season, jumping from 1.1 to 3.4. Much of Detroit’s early season success is owed to Drummond and the Pistons look to be a legit playoff team this season thanks to their glass-cleaning center. Things are only looking up for the UConn product.

Kemba Walker: Walker has been playing just fine recently and there’s not much to complain about when it comes to his game besides his decision to shoot less. He is averaging nearly two less shot attempts per game and one less three-point attempt per game while averaging more minutes this season than last. The Hornets are a more dangerous team when Walker is actively looking for and shooting his shot and at this point, the Hornets need to be a more dangerous team. They’re down to 11th in the Eastern Conference with an 8-11 record, and although they look better with Nicolas Batum back, the team still looks mediocre at best. One bright spot though is Walker averaging a career-best 6.2 assists per game. If Walker decides to chuck a little bit more, he’ll be right on pace with last season when he became an All-Star for the first time. I wouldn’t worry too much about “Cardiac Kemba.”

Jeremy Lamb: Unfortunately for Lamb, the return of Batum means less minutes and shots for himself, so it’s not a surprise to see his numbers drop down to 15.9 points and 28.9 minutes per game. Still, Lamb’s assists and rebounds per game continue to increase and they are up to 3.4 and 5.3 respectively. Lamb’s three-point efficiency has dropped a little and sits at 37.3 percent now, which is nothing to be ashamed of. Lamb has been a very meaningful contributor to the Hornets this season, and now it will be up to them to integrate Batum back in and hope that it leads to team success, because Lamb is definitely doing his part to make it happen.

Rudy Gay: Gay is averaging nearly 12 points and five rebounds per game now with a Spurs team that sits at 3rd in the Western Conference. He is not being asked to do much, and in return he is providing value in his limited spurts. The Spurs are still without their best player, Kawhi Leonard, so it will be interesting to see the lineup combinations they try once Leonard comes back. With Leonard and Gay at the forward spots, the Spurs could have a modern, spacious lineup which could be an even better situation for Gay and would most likely only increase his efficiency. At the moment though, Gay is doing exactly what is asked of him and helping the team in the ways he can.

Shabazz Napier: The Trail Blazers responded to Napier’s extremely efficient play in limited spurts by giving him more playing time, and the results have been inspiring. Napier is now averaging a career-high 7.5 points per game on career-highs in field goal percentage (50), three-point percentage (51.9) and free-throw percentage (81.5). Napier is now playing a legit backup role to Damian Lillard, and the Blazers do not have to be nearly as worried about the offense when Lillard sits thanks to Napier’s solid play. For a guy that looked like he might be on his way out of the league, it’s fantastic to see this former national champion playing so well.


Zac Lane is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at zachary.d.lane@uconn.edu.